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Ports! Can't live with 'em can't live without 'em. But which ones, eh?

Posted on 2007-04-02
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Last Modified: 2010-04-19
I have been guilty, on occasion,  of following advice from EE without paying too much attention. Particularly when it comes to ports. Can we establish some rule-of-thumb typical standards for SBS-2003? Which ports should ALWAYS be closed? Which ports should typically be open for a SBS-2003 server used as such:

A   2x NIC DC with exchange no VPN no FTP no remote web/email
B    2x NIC DC with exchange with remote web/email no VPN no FTP
C   2x NIC DC with exchange with remote web/email with VPN no FTP
D   is FTP ever a good idea on a SBS?
E should port 80 ever be open?

I realize there maybe no definitive
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Question by:hgj1357
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Lee W, MVP earned 150 total points
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The simple answer:

ALL Ports should always be closed
ALL Ports required to provide services on the internet should be open

IF you have an appropriate plug and play router, SBS will open the necessary ports for you.

A) Port 25
B) Port 25, 443, possibly port 80
C) Port 25, 443, 1723, possibly port 80
D) FTP in general is not a good idea.  Passwords are transferred in clear text, the data is completely unencrypted.  If you need an FTP site, allow it to be for external downloads only - do not permit uploads and only allow anonymous access. FTP can be scripted EASILY and used as a method for obtaining passwords.
E) If you want to run a publicly accessibly web site, yes.  And I believe if you open it with RWW in use, it would forward you to an HTTPS site.  Keep in mind, while every port that is open is a place to attack, IIS 6 has been a very secure product in comparison to other products, even Apache.  IT's not bulletproof, but it's not an eggshell either.
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by:MarkMichael
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The only port I ever (grudgingly) open up is HTTPS (tcp/443) for secure OWA access. I prefer to do everything else via VPN.
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by:hgj1357
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I was hoping this would develop into a good discussion on ports.

i.e. different ports may be open one one NIC, and closed on the other.

Every port should be open on the routers. Or maybe not.

I understand if there is less enthusiasm there than there is here.
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by:MarkMichael
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From a security perspective, open ports = bad; it's really that simple. It's not infeasible to think that someone, somewhere, someday will write an exploit that addresses a service you have open to the Internet.
All we can do to mitigate that threat is to have as few services open to the Internet as possible and make sure they are patched to the hilt :)
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